Author(s): Alison Wolf
The reality of female professional success in today's world - a challenge to long held assumptions about female achievement and sexual inequality. For most of history, being female defined the limits of a woman's achievements. But now, women are successful careerists equal to men. In Norway, women legally must constitute a third of all boards; in America, women have gone from 3 per cent of practising lawyers in 1970 to 40 per cent today, and over half of all law students. These changes are revolutionary - but not universal: the 'sisterhood' of working women is deeply divided. Making enormous strides in the workplace are young, educated, full-time professionals who have put children on hold. But for a second group of women this is unattainable: instead, they work part-time, earn less, are concentrated in heavily feminized occupations like cleaning and gain income and self-worth from having children young. As these two groups move ever further apart, shared gender no longer automatically creates interests in common with other women. Instead, for the first group, their working lives - and priorities - increasingly resemble those of the successful men they work alongside.
"The XX Factor" lifts the curtain on the social, cultural and economic schisms behind the phenomenal rise of women in the workplace.
Alison Wolf is a British economist. She is currently the Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management, and has been a specialist adviser to the House of Commons select committee on education and skills. In March 2011 she completed the Wolf Review of Vocational Education for the Secretary of State for Education. She writes widely for the national press and is a presenter for Analysis on BBC Radio 4.